And so to bed

“Oh botheration!” exclaimed Drusilla Kennington-Oval, her gamine face puckering in a tiny moue of vexation.

She had come to the end of her novel, Heartsease by Monica Liphook (Olympia Press) and it was time for her to get out of bed and face another mad, jolly, gorgeous day. She widened her slim, artistic fingers (and a thumb) and let the book slip to the cottage floor with an unaccustomed plonk. Immediately, she was out of bed, long limbs flashing, and down her knees mopping up the plonk – a bottle of cheap but agreeable Yugoslav Chablis that she was trying out.

Although it was only eight o’clock, already she could hear the sound of her farmer neighbours beginning to stir: the slam of a shooting brake door as one sped off for a round of golf and the cheerful clatter of helicopter blades as another one was whisked away to some boring business meeting in Brussels. Throwing on an old pair of patched jeans, Drusilla flung open the back door and bounded down to the garden fence. “Hello, Mr Helicopter Pilot!” she cried, waving both her arms high in the air. The helicopter hit a tree.

Biting her lip at her silly forgetfulness, Drusilla ran inside the cottage and put on an old patched bra and an old patched jumper.

Drusilla never was much of a one for breakfast. It was just a spoonful or two of game pâté, flung onto an Old Bath Oliver biscuit, and then she was bounding like a deer over the familiar hillocks and meadows of Platt’s Bottom, stopping only for a breath of pure country air – she loved breathing – a quick fag or a chat with a cow.

And then, there was Derwent Hilliton. A moment before, the lane had been empty, but now there was Derwent Hilliton in his new Maserati, forty feet long and only nine inches high. She gasped when she saw his manly profile, which he was holding so that she could admire it. He was wiping a speck of dust from the gold-plated steering wheel with a ten-pound note. There was something almost feminine in his grace of movement, as he folded the banknote and put it back into his handbag.

“Hello, Dru,” said Derwent. “Daddy has given me a million pounds, so I am off to Tibet tomorrow, to build a new luxury hotel, the Shangri La Hilliton. So would you like to marry me and come with me, as Mrs. Derwent Hilliton? Think it over. I will call you tonight.”

With a muffled roar from the twin gold-plated exhausts, he was gone.

Dru’s heart was in a turmoil. Licketyspit, licketspit it went.
As usual when she was troubled, Drusilla found her way to Blair Tremayne’s cottage, at the back of the “Dog and Duck” public house.

As she opened the door, Dru’s heart missed a beat as she looked at the simple, bachelor scene inside. The old Army boot full of cold porridge, ready for an early breakfast. The old tennis racquet lying just where he had used for draining the chips. The old wooden mangle he used for extracting the last bit of toothpaste from the tube. For Blair Tremayne had no father to give him a million pounds. He was just a humble, dedicated writer, hard at work translating a French / English dictionary into English / French.

A muffled grunt made her turn and there was Blair, towering over her. He folded her in his arms twice (he had rather long arms) and hugged her tightly to him. His old tweed jacket smelled deliciously of spaniel dog.

“Oh Dru, Dru. Me. You.” Blair Tremayne was a man of few words, so he had to work the words that he did know rather hard. “Dru, oh Dru!”

He paused for a moment and removed an old spaniel dog from beneath his jacket.

“Me and you. Marry, eh Dru? May I be Mr. Drusilla Kennington-Oval?”

Drusilla tore herself away from his dear arms. She had to have time to think, so she walked and walked. All that day she walked, along roads, along footpaths, she knew not where. At one point she thought she recognized the Manchester Ship Canal and later she was hailed by a friend from the foyer of The Royal Albert Hotel, Bognor Regis.

When she finally reached home, she found two bunches of flowers waiting for her. A hundred roses bore an ivory card that said, “Marry me. Derwent.” Next to a few daises tied with fuse wire was a scrap of toilet paper with the message, “Be mine. Blair.”

What was she to do? On the morning of the honeymoon, would she pull back the curtains and see the massive glaciers of far-off Tibet? Or a view of the gents’ toilet at the back of the “Dog and Duck”?

So Dru made her decision. She was wedded (and bedded). And on the morning of the honeymoon, she pulled back the curtains – and saw Tibet!

Frank Muir 

I have included this story in my blog as a tribute to Roger T. Davies, my old Latin teacher, who died recently. It was Roger who first introduced me to the tale of Drusilla and her misadventures. After more than forty years, I wrote the above entirely from memory.    

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